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Home > Press > A New Model Nanocar on the Showroom Floor

Abstract:
A year after the creation of the first nanocar by scientists from Rice University, a new and improved version is on the showroom floor. The new car, which includes a light-driven engine, opens the door to future development of more sophisticated nanomachines that could be used, among other things, for targeted drug delivery within the body.

A New Model Nanocar on the Showroom Floor

Jerusalem, Israel | Posted on December 7th, 2006

In October 2005, a team of scientists from Rice University in Texas successfully tested the first nano automobile. Although this was not the first attempt to create a nanostructure that resembles in some sense an actual car, it was the first to actually move with some degree of control.


Motorized nanocar parts (illustration) (Credit: Rive University)
The original nanocar had a chassis, 2 axles, and four wheels made of buckyballs, a single molecule consisting of C60, i.e., 60 carbon atoms, arranged in a spherical shape similar to a soccer ball. The car measured just 3-4 nanometers, making it a tad wider than a DNA strand and about 20,000 times smaller than the width of a strand of a human hair. Movement on four wheels in a direction perpendicular to its axles distinguishes the nanocar from other similarly-shaped nanostructures built to date. To verify that the nanocar was in fact rolling rather than merely slipping or sliding, the scientists built it on a gold platform, which they heated to 200 degrees C, and then analyzed complex measurements of a series of images captured by scanning tunneling microscope (STM), capable of detecting single atoms.

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The Future of Things (TFOT) is an online magazine dedicated to bringing original content on science, technology, and medicine from around the world. TFOT aims to provide comprehensive, accurate, and high quality coverage of emerging scientific and technological innovations. TFOT's news stories and articles are unique, not only because they include detailed analysis and commentary, but because of the inclusion of in-depth interviews with leading scientists, engineers, and other visionaries who describe their work and offer us a glimpse into our future.

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